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Dont'a Hightower responds to Mike Lombardi saying he should switch to defensive end

Ryan Hannable
September 27, 2018 - 5:30 pm

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower hasn't looked himself through three games this season, although some of that may be due to him working his way back after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.

On The Ringer's GM Street podcast this week, former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi suggested the linebacker switch to defensive end because of his lack of speed.

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“I think what New England needs to do is stop playing [Dont’a] Hightower at linebacker and just make him a defensive end because when he’s at linebacker they are really slow," he said. "They need to play him down at defensive end. Just make him a nickel rusher. Put his hand in the dirt and make him a nickel rusher because that is the only thing they are going to be able to get out of him. They are not going to be able to get space plays and they have to get faster guys on the field on defense.”

Hightower was asked about the comments and suggestion on Thursday.

"That's not my coach," he said. "I mean, if that's what Bill [Belichick] or Flo [Brian Flores] want to do, then we'll handle it at that."

A follow-up of would he be open to such a change was then asked.

"Whatever it takes," Hightower said. "I've never been one to not do whatever I need to do."

The linebacker was also asked about how he feels physically, and Hightower suggested he's still not where he wants to be, which speaks to some plays where he's looked slow so far this season.

"I feel where I am elevating each week," he said. "Obviously, it's still early in the season we all have a lot of work to do, but me personally, I hold myself to a higher standard than that. Pushing off of last week, I had a good week, didn’t play great, but just want to continue to get better each week and that's all I can hope for."

As for the 1-2 start, Hightower said there's a lot of football to be played, but knows the team needs to turn it around sooner rather than later.

“It’s early in the season, there’s still a lot of football to go, but if bad stuff happens early you get backed up too early and dig yourself a hole," he said. "We know and understand that. and know there’s a lot of football going on. We also know we have to turn it around now. We don’t want to be looking in the end of October saying the same things we’re saying now. We’re just trying to attack it head on. We’ve been there before and those guys who have are just trying to lead that way.”

Related: Rob Gronkowski, Josh Gordon remain limited for Patriots